Charleston, S.C. boasts upscale homes, high school with aerospace class
If Boeing chooses Charleston over Everett for its second 787 assembly line, a lot of engineers and managers may have to move there. Will they find decent houses and schools? Will their quality of life take a dive?
Seattle Times aerospace reporter
CHARLESTON, S.C. — If Boeing chooses Charleston over Everett for its second 787 assembly line, a lot of engineers and managers may have to move there. Will they find decent houses and schools? Will their quality of life take a dive?
If your Southern stereotypes run to rednecks and rural poverty, think again.
A likely neighborhood for white-collar Boeing employees is suburban Mount Pleasant. Neighbors there might well include Air Force officers from the C-17 base near the Boeing plant.
Mike Bunker, director of operations at the Global Aeronautica plant that assembles the 787's central fuselage, this summer bought a 3,600-square-foot house in the particularly tony Park West enclave of Mount Pleasant.
He paid $469,000, according to the local Post & Courier newspaper, which publishes details of every Charleston real-estate transaction over $150,000.
The public high school that serves Mount Pleasant and nearby neighborhoods is Wando High, an imposing 5-year-old building set among lawns and trees. Last month, the principal, Lucy Beckham, was named national high-school principal of the year by an association of peers.
Though the school houses 3,300 students, its corridors were hushed on a recent visit. A female student in a blue military uniform was the only one outside a classroom. With so many Air Force families in the area, there's a thriving ROTC program for about 300 kids.
Mike Bunker should be really interested in teacher David Roemer's aerospace-engineering class. Roemer, formerly an engineer, wants to arrange internships at the 787 plants.
Using computer-aided design software, students design airfoils and other structures. Then they press "print."
The room has a "3-D printer" resembling a small oven. It creates a three-dimensional model of the design by extruding molten plastic and applying it layer by layer until the structure is complete.
The classroom has a small wind-tunnel — a Jetstream 500 that generates sustained wind speed up to 80 mph. Inside sits an airfoil designed by one of the students.
Cody Matthews, 16, is a junior in the class. His dad, who spent 26 years as an aviation mechanic in the Navy, is now a quality manager at the Boeing Charleston plant.
"I've been around jets my whole life," said Matthews. "I want to go to tech school for engines and things and start working on planes."
Lexy Bridges, 16, one of only two girls in the class of 21, has set her sights on NASA. But like Matthews, she'd be very happy if she ended up at Boeing.
"It's the whole flight thing I'm really into," said Bridges.
Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or firstname.lastname@example.org